In December I saw a new therapist for the first time and we agreed to see each other twice a month for the foreseeable future. All of their appointment times fall into my regular work hours (0700-1600 M-F), so I will have to miss 1-2 hours of work for each of these appointments. It is not a requirement that I tell my company exactly what I am taking my personal time for but I would like to find a tactful way to explain to my immediate super why this recurring appointment is necessary without divulging too much.

If it is important I am in Alabama, US.

  • 8
    Yes, location is important. Top voted answer suggests time off or making up the hours. In The Netherlands, you're by law allowed time for medical appointments so no need to do either suggestion. However, an employer is free to take up additional requirements for such situations as yours into standard contracts (not as an exception just for you). See here for more info (Dutch). So, please add US location. :)
    – rkeet
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 7:57
  • @rkeet I'm not sure therapy is covered under that law. After all, it can be near endless and I know plenty of jobs where it's simply either getting different hours or getting a different job if this continues long enough.
    – Mast
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 17:50
  • @Mast depends on CAO, I guess. We get 2 hours off 3 or 4 times per year to visit any type of health professional.
    – Belle
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 21:31
  • @Cyonis While a good start, that's not even close to the twice a week OP lists.
    – Mast
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 14:14

4 Answers 4


You don't need to go into much detail. Sample bare bones script that I have used in the past:

"I have a recurring [medical] appointment that cannot be scheduled outside of business hours. Please let me know if you want me to use time off or make up the hours."

No need to say it's a medical appointment if you don't want, but it will help solidify the importance. Add as much detail as you feel comfortable with, but you don't need to divulge any more information than the above. If your manager pushes back, consider getting a doctor's note to excuse yourself and being flexible in making up the time.

  • 1
    Depending on how long these appointments go on, be sure you attempt to reduce the strain as best as possible, taking the appointment in the middle of the day might not be the best idea. I had to do something similar, I would go to my appointment and then come back to work. I adjusted my work hours to accommodate my appointment (basically took a long lunch)
    – Donald
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 2:55
  • 1
    yup, that's how I do it. Plus try to schedule the appointments for either early in the morning or late in the afternoon so I can go to work at least part of the day on the days I have them.
    – jwenting
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 5:54
  • 1
    I'd adjust the second sentence based upon culture at your/OP's place of employment. My boss wouldn't make take PTO or make up hours for the amount of time OP is talking about as long as I was still able to keep up with my work
    – Kevin
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 15:01

To add: If the therapist has a variety of openings, ask your manager if there would be a more convenient time or day. You can also be proactive about a suggestion. "I'm thinking Tuesday afternoons because we don't have any standing meetings and that seems to be our slower day for customer requests..." You don't have to do this, but this will show three things:

  1. Doing the appointments is not negotiable, the only question is when.
  2. At the same time you are trying to minimize the impact on the workplace as possible.
  3. It presents the manager with a solution, rather than a problem, which will make them more likely to say "OK." (Though see #1, you are not asking if, just when.)

Tell them that you have a reocurring doctor's appointment twice a month from now on (say doctor even if your therapist isn't a PhD).
Put it on your work calendar marked as time out of office about a month in advance.

Leave enough room for travel time, extra traffic, your appointment starting late, and it running long.

For example, if your appointment is is 15 minutes from your office and it is scheduled from 10-11, tell them the appointment is 9:30-11:30.

If s/he asks if anything is wrong, just say, "No."
If s/he offers to help, just say, "Thank you, but I'm fine" (or "I'll be fine.")

Whether it is dental, marriage issues, or suicide prevention - it isn't anyone's business unless you choose to make it their business.

I recommend you don't say anything at the moment.
If you decide to open up to your manager in the future that would be fine - but at first keep it to yourself to set the correct boundary (walling off your personal business).

  • "No nothing is wrong I'm just going to take time off" is a losing strategy and likely to cause lots of problems. You need time off work so you need to give your Manager some details, as much as you are comfortable with. A better answer would be "I have a minor medical condition that will require a series of regular treatments over the next x months".
    – deep64blue
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 8:22
  • @AlanDev I wouldn't say "minor" if it isn't. Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 11:27
  • @AlanDev "Doctor's appointment" is a valid reason and enough detail for most (good) managers. I wouldn't advise OP to give an end date because s/he said that there currently isn't one. Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 14:08
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    Correction: If s/he asks if anything is wrong, just say, "Yes, that's why I'm seeing a doctor". Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 18:42
  • @DawoodibnKareem +1 Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 19:18

Just tell them, straight up. You are not obligated to disclose any information about your healthcare.

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